Despite objections from senior advocates, Gov. Bruce Rauner’s administration is forging ahead with a cost-cutting plan to dramatically alter how older adults receive services intended to keep them from needing to go into nursing homes.
Rauner’s team is projecting it can save $120 million a year by reducing the number of hours state-paid home care workers are needed in the homes of elderly individuals by substituting “flexible” alternatives.
Opponents, including AARP, say the plan in reality is a reckless reduction of services that will result in higher costs to the state by forcing more Illinois residents into expensive nursing home care.
Some of those opponents testified at a public hearing in Chicago this past week where they urged Rauner’s Department on Aging to reconsider.
One “flexible” alternative suggested by state officials that came in for particular criticism is for Illinois to pay ridesharing services such as Uber to transport seniors to medical appointments instead of relying on their home care workers.
“That sounds great, but how many older people with multiple health problems are going to be dealing with Uber,” said Charles Johnson, who spent nine years as the director of the Department on Aging under two Democratic governors.
“So much of this is not based in reality,” said Johnson, who appeared in his new capacity as an AARP Illinois board member.
Defending the plan, Department on Aging Deputy Director Jennifer Reif told me the ridesharing alternative would…
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